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Santhera Says It Discontinued Discussions With Newron

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Santhera Pharmaceuticals Holding AG ended talks with Newron Pharmaceuticals SpA, the Italian drugmaker developing a Parkinson’s disease treatment with Merck KGaA.

Santhera, based in Liestal, Switzerland, didn’t comment further in the one-sentence statement release after the Swiss stock market closed.

Newron, which has a market value of 48.7 million Swiss francs ($51.6 million), was in negotiations to sell itself to Santhera, a person with knowledge of the situation said Jan. 24. A combination would have brought together two companies that had lost two-thirds of their market value in the past year.

Santhera said Jan. 25 it had a “high-level dialogue” with Bresso, Italy-based Newron, which also confirmed the talks.

Newron, which is listed on the Swiss stock exchange, plunged in May after saying the experimental painkiller ralfinamide was no better than a placebo in helping patients with back pain. The same month, Santhera sank after its Catena drug failed in a study against Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare inherited disease that damages the nervous system.

Newron fell 35 centimes, or 5 percent, to 6.70 francs at the 5:30 p.m. close of trading in Zurich. Santhera, which issued its statement after the market closed, rose 11 centimes, or 1.3 percent, to close at 8.80 francs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Randall Hackley in Zurich at rhackley@bloomberg.net; Dermot Doherty in Geneva at ddoherty9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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